Climate Change: Why the Threat Produces Apathy, Not Action

Many people aren’t responding to mounting evidence of the huge impacts of climate change. Neuroscience helps explain why – and the key role that businesses can play in responding rationally.

Voter behavior has long held mysteries for both politicians and psychologists. Why do poor and working-class voters across the US South, for instance, still line up to support conservative candidates whose policies favor the rich, weaken the social-safety net and limit access to affordable health care?

Some in the field of moral psychology have argued that national politics is “more like religion than it is like shopping”. Entrenched notions of cultural identity, in other words, can often be more motivating than short-term policy promises.

But how to explain the paralyzing resistance to climate change action, where the risks approach existential peaks unseen in historical human experience?

Despite spending a record amount of money to sway the mid-term US elections, environmental groups and high-profile donors failed to avert a sweeping Republican victory last week, in which candidates opposing the regulation of greenhouse gases and championing the expansion of tar sands pipelines won big.

It’s not as though the facts aren’t there: the global scientific community has warned us for years about the present and future impacts of climate change linked to fossil fuel use. Earlier this month, for example, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report came out, warning of “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” if carbon emissions are not halted fast.

“Science has spoken,” UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said during the report’s release. “Time is not on our side.”

With so much at stake, why do people fail to act? What’s happening inside their brains?

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Photo Credit: J E Theriot on


Climate Reality
Climate Reality6 hours ago
“Wanting to make a difference is one thing. Knowing how and having the skills to really pull it off is another. That's why training to become a Climate Reality Leader was an inspiring moment for me.”
Climate Reality
Climate Reality shared Years of Living Dangerously's video.8 hours ago
The president’s new infrastructure plan? That infrastructure can just ignore climate change – despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Climate Reality
Years of Living Dangerously
You probably didn't see the first half of President Donald J. Trump's press conference. Here's what went down. What do you think? #YEARSproject
Climate Reality
Climate Reality13 hours ago
Whether you’re learning about the climate crisis for the first time or simply need a refresher, you’ll gain answers to key questions like:

- What do we mean by “climate change”?
- How do we know climate change is happening?
- What are the causes of climate change?
- What can I do about the climate crisis?
Climate Reality
Climate Reality17 hours ago
Heatwaves can be serious — and seriously deadly. Here’s how heatwaves as high as 131°F could become the new norm in places like Europe and the US.

(via Years of Living Dangerously)
Climate Reality
Climate Reality
Climate Reality19 hours ago
We can’t cherry-pick science. Share if you know manmade climate change is real.

(via Neil deGrasse Tyson)
Climate Reality
Climate Reality1 day ago
You can join the tens of thousands of people around the world who are speaking truth to power by downloading the 10-minute Truth in 10 presentation today.

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Climate Change Discussion

Is climate change real? Or is it a communist plot to enslave humanity? Is denial of climate change a plot by the oil companies to protect their profits? How can we tell who is lying? Is doomsday upon us? How bad is it? Is it the end for all life on Earth? And, if so, should we lie down or something? This group endeavors to discover the answers to these questions and more. It is NOT the purpose of this group to force an answer on participants. We are blind men groping an elephant. Tell us what your part of the elephant feels like so that the rest of us can correct our understanding. This group has few rules and will be moderated with a light hand. 1) Don't violate the Facebook Terms of Service. We don't want the group shut down. 2) Spam will be deleted. Off-topic posts from regulars are permitted within reason for social purposes, but off-topic posts from newcomers will be assumed to be spam and removed. All posts will be subjected to post approval. 3) This is an open group. If you make an ass of yourself, the whole world will see it. The moderators will not protect you from yourself. 4) If you don't want to see another person's posts, use the block feature. The moderators will be happy to help you with this. You may censor what you see. You may not censor what others see. 5) Don't feed trolls. The best way to draw attention to an idiot's rant is to respond to him. The best way to silence him is to ignore him. The post will rapidly scroll out of view and others won't see it. Every time you reply, you bump the post up where all will see it, giving it legitimacy. 6) Reporting others is a bannable offense. Only report for fly-by-night spam (ie. from people who just joined the group to post one item and then vanish). Bumping 20161006
Allan Eisenbarth
Allan Eisenbarth shared a link to the group: Climate Change Discussion.9 hours ago

Mike Howard
Mike Howard shared a link to the group: Climate Change Discussion.1 day ago
Allan Barr
Allan Barr shared a link to the group: Climate Change Discussion.5 days ago
If this projection is correct, and to me it appears fairly logical, many parts of the world will be uninhabitable and billions will die or be forced to migrate to the far north and south of the planet. Food shortages will be endemic and the collapse of civilization as we know it.

Judy Byatt
Judy Byatt2 hours ago
I find it strange that deniers can look at the IPCC CMIP3 surface model and make such an inane comment, what happened to honesty?

Murray Davis-Goff "Models have come in for a lot of criticism by many scientists. Keep in mind models are not empirical science. They are approximations, speculative, and fundamentally flawed as a predictive tool.
Jean Solenn Varnier
Jean Solenn Varnier shared Météo Climat .44BZH's post to the group: Climate Change Discussion.19 hours ago
Suping Melchzedek Makoaela
Suping Melchzedek Makoaela13 hours ago
What can heavily industrialized countries do to reduce global warming

Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice3 days ago
Since 23 September 2016, ten Parties have accepted the Doha Amendment, bringing the total number of ratifications to 80.

The Amendment will enter into force when 144 or three-quarters of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol have submitted their instruments of acceptance to the Depositary.
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice3 days ago
The member States of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have finalized a draft declaration of ethical principles in relation to climate change. The draft declaration is the result of a year of work, including the meeting of the Ad Hoc Expert Group (AHEG) and extensive written consultations with member States.

The draft declaration includes principles relating to prevention of harm, the precautionary approach, equity and justice, sustainable development, solidarity, and scientific knowledge and integrity in decision making.
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice5 days ago
The majority of methane emissions in agriculture comes from two sources: paddy rice production and enteric methane emitted by ruminants. Countries with large agricultural sectors, like Vietnam and Uruguay, face the challenge to develop Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) to reduce these emissions.

Among other activities, in Vietnam, participants to a workshop discussed policy implications of two research projects on paddy rice production. The Government of Uruguay is entering into a research partnership to develop measures to reduce methane emissions from livestock production.
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice5 days ago
Recent developments in climate mitigation finance include national initiatives on offsets and research and development, new and innovative financing for renewables issued by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and a World Bank-supported solar rooftop initiative to address the energy crisis in Gaza. Scotland has doubled its investment in the Climate Trust Fund Offshore Wind Accelerator, and the German federal government has offset business travel emissions.
Climate Change Policy & Practice
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The wave of climate action by US non-state actors, spurred by President Trump’s announcement of the US’ intended withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, continues with the launch of an online source seeking to help federal state legislators to create their own climate change laws.

Other recent initiatives include New York State approving a pilot programme to make renewable energy available for low-income customers, and Hawaii launching the construction of its first public hydrogen vehicle fuelling station.
Climate Change Policy & Practice
Climate Change Policy & Practice2 weeks ago
The FAO Strategy on Climate Change consists of three elements: guiding principles; expected outcomes; and a plan of action.

The Strategy seeks to guide FAO’s action towards three expected outcomes: enhanced members’ capacities on climate change; improved integration of food security and nutrition, agriculture, forestry and fisheries considerations in the international climate change agenda; and strengthened coordination of FAO work on climate change.

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